Bit-tech: What does day to day life entail for a pro overclocker?
8Pack: I put all my testing into use here or doing LN2 overclocking at home. Otherwise, I'm binning CPUs, testing for SI (system integration), building systems, or testing BIOS for manufacturers.
Bit-tech: What does it mean to be the UK's #1 overclocker and how is it defined?
8Pack: It's defined by points on HWBot. You get points for 2D and 3D benching, and each piece of hardware is weighted accordingly. Say you have an i7-3770K, which loads of people have used, you'd get more points for coming top in one of those benches than if someone benches a laptop. You also get global and world record points. At the top level, you're competing only for global and world record points, and it's always with the latest and most popular stuff.
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Bit-tech: As an overclocker, what's next for you?
8Pack: On HWBot, I'm looking to get to world number 1 and maintain that position for as long as I possibly can. I'll also be looking at the new AMD GPU in the not too distant future and just trying to keep bettering myself in terms of the points I've got on HWBot, my presence on the forums and expanding the system range.
Bit-tech: Could you go into a bit more detail about overclocking in the financial sector?
8Pack: I have to be careful because the companies all compete and I'm on NDA for everyone, but what they're trying to do is make their systems efficient. Every trader gets the same feed off the stock exchange. You either get the share at the price you want or you don't based on how quick your system can turn it around. Just by tweaking memory, I upped efficiency by about 20%. The software programmers try to keep as much in the CPU cache as possible, and we have the CPU running at full speed all the time, but some does reside in the memory. The stock exchange has custom CPUs that are designed with larger caches, but these can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. So the companies are looking to beat these custom CPUs with raw processing and tweaking power, and we are taking trades off these guys, no problem.
Bit-tech: What crossovers are there between the mindsets of bodybuilders and overclockers?
8Pack: Both of them are similar in that you've got to be really focussed and motivated. You're always aiming to better yourself, whether that's your benchmark results, the quality of the system you build or stripping off body fat and gaining more muscle mass. They're both very goal-focussed, and you need to be willing to do whatever it takes to get to that goal.
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Bit-tech: What home system do you currently run?
8Pack: I've got an Asus Maximus V Gene with an i7-3770k at 5GHz, 2,600MHz memory and an AMD Radeon HD 7990, all water-cooled in a micro-ATX Parvum case.
Bit-tech: What was it that made you want to build your own line of systems?
8Pack: I've always built systems up to the highest possible performance with the tech I could get my hands on. But working here, there's no limit. I can test a hundred CPUs to find one if I wish. I'm always going to get the latest graphics cards and I have input on motherboard BIOS across all manufacturers. Essentially, the systems are my ideal systems, and working here gives me the opportunity to build them.
Bit-tech: In what ways are the components selected and hand picked?
8Pack: Using the i7-4770K as an example, we get in several batches. I test 10 or 20 from each batch, ascertain which is a good batch and order in lots of those for SI in general. Then, by process of elimination, I pick the ones that do high frequencies with a strong IMC (integrated memory controller) and that work stably with two or three graphics cards. I won't tell you exactly how I do it because people can copy, but it's just a case of narrowing down based on performance.
Bit-tech: What happens to parts that don't make the cut?
8Pack: They're all OEM system chips, so they're filtered down through systems. The ones that are still very good but that I don't select, they'll go in the highest overclocked systems and bundles, then the next tier in the lesser overclocked ones, and so on.
Click to enlarge - The 8Pack welcome pack and unique metal plaques
Bit-tech: What are the rules on the overclocks for the 8Pack systems?
8Pack: They're all hand-tuned to as high as they can go for stable 24/7 use within the thermal parameters of the CPU and voltage. Everything is tuned up - the memory, the BCLK, the GPUs and so on.
Bit-tech: Do the systems come with a basic Windows install or do you tweak the OS as well?
8Pack: I tweak the OS, but I don't want to say exactly how! I don't want competitors or people on HWBot to know how I make it efficient.
Bit-tech: What customisations can users make?
8Pack: The end user can have any powder coat finish they wish. We tested about 20 different powder coating services around here to find the absolute best. As for the fluids, we have extremely good links with Mayhems, and they can have absolutely any colour fluid they want. Same with the braided cables, the water-cooing fittings and compression fittings. We can also be slightly flexible on hardware, but it's always going to be full water-cooling. The graphics cards are really not flexible because then they may as well be normal systems.